The National Archives is refusing to release thousands of emails in which President Biden uses various pseudonyms until it gets permission from Mr. Biden and President Obama, according to the House Oversight Committee. The pseudonymous emails are believed to include Mr. Biden’s correspondence with his son, Hunter, about business affairs in Ukraine.
The National Archives has confirmed the existence of about 5,400 emails in which Mr. Biden, during his vice presidency, used the false names Robin Ware, Robert Peters, and JRB Ware to send and receive information — including from his son. The emails are being sought by the Oversight Committee, which is investigating the younger Mr. Biden’s tangled business affairs, as well as by a conservative legal group, the Southeastern Legal Foundation, which on Monday filed a lawsuit seeking the emails’ release.
The email addresses using the three pseudonyms were Gmail accounts that may not have been encrypted, raising the possibility that the elder Mr. Biden was using private Gmail accounts for official business, the same issue that entangled Secretary Clinton for years.
The Southeastern Legal Foundation filed Freedom of Information Act requests seeking the emails with National Archives both in 2021 and 2022. The new lawsuit, filed in a federal district court at Atlanta, said the SLF “files this lawsuit to compel Defendant to comply with FOIA.” A spokesman for SLF did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The House Oversight Committee says it has been unable to gain access to the emails thus far because both Messrs. Biden and Obama have not given approval for their release, as is required by federal law.
“The Committee has spoken with the National Archives about Chairman Comer’s request,” a spokeswoman for the Oversight Committee, Jessica Collins, says in a statement to the Sun. “National Archives officials have indicated they have sent some of the records to representatives for former President Obama and Joe Biden for their approval to be released. President Biden promised the most transparent administration in history and we fully expect him to approve the release of these records.”
The pseudonymous messages, which are believed to show the president including his son on an email about a phone call with Ukraine’s then-president, Petro Poroshenko, could be fodder for the House Republicans’ looming impeachment inquiry. The emails were sent during the Obama administration, when the younger Mr. Biden was being paid $80,00 a year to sit on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, which, his business partner Devon Archer has told the Oversight Committee, was seeking to leverage the Biden “brand” in its favor.
Mr. Biden’s use of Gmail could also be an issue. In 2016, Mrs. Clinton sat before the House Select Committee on Benghazi for 11 hours, during which she was questioned by members about her use of a personal email server on which she used the pseudonym Diane Reynolds. Mrs. Clinton was also investigated by the FBI over her use of a private email server, an investigation that became a major issue in the 2016 election.
The chairman of the committee, Congressman James Comer, asked the National Archives “to provide then-Vice President Joe Biden’s records regarding his duties as Vice President that overlapped with his son’s activities in Ukraine.” Mr. Comer also requested all communications between the younger Mr. Biden and his former business associates, Archer and Eric Schwerin.
“Joe Biden has stated there was ‘an absolute wall’ between his family’s foreign business schemes and his duties as Vice President, but evidence reveals that access was wide open for his family’s influence peddling,” Mr. Comer said in a statement on August 17 announcing his NARA request. “We already have evidence of then-Vice President Biden speaking, dining, and having coffee with his son’s foreign business associates.”
Mr. Comer has said he is already prepared to move forward with opening an impeachment inquiry into the president, which would allow his committee to broaden its investigation by more aggressively pursuing witnesses and hiring more outside staff. He has already declared that he plans to subpoena members of the Biden family, saying the committee is “putting together a case, and I think we’ve done that very well.”
During a Sunday appearance on Fox News, Speaker McCarthy echoed those sentiments, calling an impeachment inquiry into the president a “natural step forward” to broaden the investigations of the Biden family. An impeachment inquiry would also allow Mr. McCarthy to deputize committees beyond Oversight, including the Judiciary and the Ways and Means committees — both of which have played leading roles in exposing the younger Mr. Biden’s financial dealings.
The emails that both the SFA and Oversight Committee are seeking are believed to show that Mr. Biden did occasionally include his son in official White House business. In one May 2016 email, Mr. Biden’s traveling chief of staff, Colonel John Flynn, sent the then-vice president a notice that they would “prep” for a call with Ukraine’s then-vice president, Petro Poroshenko. For an unknown reason, the first son was the only person copied on that message. At the time, Hunter Biden was serving on the Burisma board.
The SLF said in a statement that it hopes to shed light on anything that the president and his son may have discussed about foreign business dealings. “All too often, public officials abuse their power by using it for their personal or political benefit,” the group wrote. “When they do, many seek to hide it. The only way to preserve governmental integrity is for NARA to release Biden’s nearly 5,400 emails to SLF and thus the public. The American public deserves to know what is in them.”